Canadian companies are finding creative ways to reach Halloween customers

Natalie Green / October 2020

We all know that Halloween is going to look very different this year. Not only will it take place at the intersection of a full moon, a blue moon, daylight savings time and on a Saturday, it will occur in the middle of a global pandemic that is imposing varying constraints on all of us.

But fear not. If Halloween is like other holidays that have occurred during the pandemic, people will find new ways to celebrate at home or online, while following local guidelines. And we will continue to find ways to treat ourselves.

Numerator research suggests the number of households planning to purchase Halloween candy and snacks to distribute to trick-or-treaters is down this year versus last year. However the number of those intending to purchase for household consumption is up slightly, likely to compensate for missed trick-or-treating opportunities.1

In the midst of this uncertainty, there are opportunities for creativity. Just as families across Canada will be adapting their familiar rituals, businesses are adapting their strategies. Here are two ways businesses can reach customers this Halloween.

Help create new rituals

Nestlé Canada has expanded its focus beyond reaching people buying chocolate for trick-or-treaters, to lower-funnel tactics around having a fun, safe and spooky holiday. Through the Red Pumpkin Project, the brand is helping people across the country find information about safe ways to celebrate and encouraging them to wear or display a red pumpkin and promote a safe Halloween season.

To do this, the Nestlé marketing team has increased its focus on Google Search and YouTube and are using data signals to help reach key online audiences at scale, such as category shoppers, parents, family television fans and other affinity segments.They’re working with industry partners and Today’s Parent to share safety guidelines on the Red Pumpkin Project website, as well as Halloween-themed content and activities, like scavenger hunts. They’ve also dedicated retail digital media to messaging around staying safe and in major grocery stores, are displaying Red Pumpkin signage and free stickers, to be worn or displayed at home.

“There is uncertainty by province for how Halloween will be celebrated this year, so we need flexibility in our media investment strategy,” said Valerie Aguiar, Nestlé Canada Marketing Manager. “Understanding consumer receptivity and results in real-time enables a nimble, reactive approach for the Red Pumpkin Project. Digital allows for this reactive approach.”

Connect with them online

Candy’s Costume Shop in Toronto is a year-round destination for costumes, wigs and special effects makeup. The shop first opened its e-commerce store five years ago, but when the pandemic forced the team to close the retail store doors in March, they turned their attention online.

Showcasing products on their Google My Business profile has helped customers view costumes and inventory availability. Now that their store has reopened, they’re continuing to keep their profile and website updated so in-store customers can plan purchases in advance.

Owner Geoff Waszek says many people are last-minute Halloween shoppers and heading in-store will be more challenging this year.

“There will be a Halloween, just not the same one people are used to,” Waszek says, adding that he anticipates that costumes featuring face masks will be popular this year.

Like many of us, companies may not know exactly what to expect this Halloween. However, by being creative, keeping flexible plans and looking at available trends, insights and analytics, marketers can help consumers celebrate in new ways.

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